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New England Warrior Camp 2010

Matt Cutts stuck a fork in yet another automated, low-quality, easy-to-outsource SEO tactic recently: guest blogging for SEO. In his words:

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging [for SEO] is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”

Is anyone truly surprised by this announcement? Every day, my inbox is clogged with dozens upon dozens of really bad, automated pitches for guest blog posts. Every day, they get flagged as spam. The bots have taken over the space, and now Google is going to lay the smackdown on them.

Before you lament the death of another part of easy SEO, consider another part of Matt’s words:

“I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”

In other words, behave as if there were no Google. Would you still pursue guest blogging if there was no SEO, if Google wasn’t looking over your shoulder? Yes, absolutely. If Oprah Winfrey emailed me and said she wanted to guest blog here, I’d say yes.

Here’s the part that I think a lot of marketers have missed. The impending death of guest blogging for SEO purposes is a good thing, a very good thing, for content marketers who produce great quality content. The less garbage there is, the less hard our audiences have to work to find the good stuff. A diamond in the mud may be a diamond, but it’s easier to find in a bucket of mud than in a stadium filled with mud. If this puts down a bad content marketing practice that’s become so automated that no humans even need to be involved, then good. Cull the herd, as it were.

If you’ve been relying on spammy guest blogging practices for SEO purposes, then it’s time to move on. If you’re still bringing in guest bloggers who you know, trust, and vouch for personally, then chances are Google isn’t going to hurt you (at least based on what Matt said in his post).

The sky falls selectively in the world of SEO, but it tends to fall on “easy” first. Stop chasing “easy” and start chasing “great”, and you’ll spend a lot less time dodging sky fragments.

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